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Course overview

Our MSc in Human Factors and Ergonomics aims to equip you with the knowledge and skills required to design products, jobs / tasks and environments from the human perspective. If you are interested in people, technology and design, then this could be the course for you.

In this course you will learn about a range of human characteristics (physical, cognitive, social and emotional) as they relate to our interactions with jobs, environments, products, services and other people. You will graduate with a postgraduate qualification that is increasingly desirable in industry and provides the necessary knowledge and skills to address human factors issues for the 21st century.

  • This is a Chartered Institute of Ergonomics and Human Factors Qualifying Course
  • There are many opportunities to continue your studies within the department through an extensive PhD programme within the Human Factors research group
  • More than 98% of engineering research ranked of international quality
  • Graduates of the Human Factors and Ergonomics MSc can get full membership with the Human Factors and Ergonomics Society (HFES) after completing four years’ work experience

Why choose this course?


in the UK for research power

REF 2014

Top 100

The University of Nottingham is a top 100 global university

QS World University Rankings 2020

Top 15

This course is offered within a UK top 15 department

Course content

The MSc offers a range of modules designed specifically to provide fundamental knowledge and practical skills in human factors and ergonomics.


Physical Ergonomics 10 credits

A thorough understanding of human factors/ergonomics is critical to the successful design and implementation of products, workplaces, jobs and systems.

This module focuses on the physical characteristics of people (eg body size, strength, flexibility, vision and hearing abilities) and considers how to account for an individual's fundamental needs, capabilities and limitations.

Ultimately, such an understanding will lead to products, workplaces, jobs and systems which promote productivity, health, safety, comfort, etc.

This module covers:

  • structure and functioning of the human body
  • anthropometry (human body dimensions) and product/workplace design
  • biomechanics (loadings on the human body)
  • work-related upper-limb disorders
  • manual materials handling
  • risk assessment for work-related musculoskeletal disorders
  • designing and assessing environments to account for visual, acoustic, thermal and vibration factor
Cognitive Ergonomics in Design

This module covers the following topics:                                                                                       

  • cognitive psychology and ergonomics
  • the human as an information processor: memory and attention, mental models
  • human workload
  • displays, controls, consoles and control rooms
  • decision making, automation
  • situation awareness
  • problem-solving and artificial intelligence
  • decision support systems, decision-making biases
  • situated cognition and joint cognitive systems
Studying Human Performance 20 credits

This module aims to give a broad review of the measurement techniques which can be used in ergonomic analysis and evaluation of systems or products, together with an understanding of the need for experimental design and control in order to obtain valid and meaningful results. It also provides a theoretical basis for techniques which may be practised during laboratory work and exercises in other human factors modules.

The module covers:

  • Introduction to experimental design; experimental controls; selection and recruitment of subjects; user trials; ethical considerations
  • Observational methods: direct and indirect observation; recording techniques; measurement of behaviour; activity sampling
  • Subjective measurements: ranking methods, rating scales, application in interviews and questionnaires
  • Task analysis: task description; tabular and hierarchical task analysis; applications
  • Introduction to SPSS
  • Descriptive statistics
  • Statistical analysis: Types of data; Normal distribution; Non-parametric tests; Parametric 2 samples tests, Correlation and regression, Chi Square, ANOVA
Simulation, Virtual Reality and Advanced Human-Machine Interface

For human factors/ergonomics work, simulation tools can enable designers, managers and end-users to experience products and systems in realistic, interactive environments. Such advancements have significant cost implications, enabling designs and their implications to be visualised early in the development life cycle. In addition, virtual/augmented reality and other advanced human-machine interfaces (HMIs) are being developed in many different industries to support different user needs.

This module will provide you with the knowledge and skills required to understand and utilise computers as human factors tools for understanding peoples’ interactions with new technology. Moreover, the module will consider HMIs that are increasingly common in modern life and frequently designed and evaluated using simulation techniques.

The module is a mix of practical and research-oriented content, and you will make extensive use of the simulation facilities and on-going research projects within the Human Factors Research Group and elsewhere in the University.

Topics include:

  • virtual reality technologies/environments/interfaces
  • augmented reality; fidelity and validity of simulators
  • presence factors for simulation
  • understanding and minimising simulator sickness
  • multimodal interfaces including the use of natural language and gesture interfaces, computers and collaborative/social interfaces, accessibility, in-car interfaces 
Advanced Engineering Research Project Organisation and Design (spring) 10 credits

A project-oriented module involving a review of publications and views on a topic allied to the chosen specialist subject. The module will also involve organisation and design of the main project. Skills will be acquired through workshops and seminars that will include:

  • Further programming in MATLAB and /or MSExcel Macros
  • Project planning and use of Microsoft Project
  • Measurement and error analysis
  • Development of laboratory skills including safety and risk assessment

Students will select a further set of specialist seminars from, e.g.:

  • Meshing for computational engineering applications
  • Modelling using CAE packages
  • Use of CES Selector software
  • Specific laboratory familiarisation
  • Use of MSVisio software for process flow
  • Use of HYSYS process modelling software
  • Use of PSpice to simulate analogue and digital circuits

The specialist seminars will be organised within the individual MSc courses.


Activity Number of Weeks Number of sessions Duration of a session
Seminar 12 weeks 1 week 3 hours

Assessment method

Assessment Type Weight Requirements
Coursework 1 40.00 Project planning
Coursework 2 20.00 Literature review
Coursework 3 20.00 Experimental Design
In-Class Test 20.00 Stats test
Health and Safety test   Pass required.
Work Systems and Safety (spring) 20 credits

This modules aims to give an understanding of systems approaches to the design and analysis of effective and safe work, primarily in the context of industrial systems but also in relation to major projects, public and social systems and digital systems.

It is vital that students learn that technical, human, organizational and economic factors must be addressed when understanding the operation and potential failure in existing systems, and in developing requirements, implementation and evaluation approaches for social and socio-technical systems, and for systems of systems.

In this module, particular attention will be paid to distributed (in time and space) systems and ones with elements of automated processes (all of which will have to interact with human and organisational elements at some point and time). The potential causes of accidents and of human error are explained, and an introduction given to methods of reporting and investigating accidents and techniques for analysing accidents and systems reliability which will lead to the design of safer organisations and work systems.

Topics covered include:

  • risk and risk perception
  • risk assessment and management
  • accident models and accident causation
  • causes of human error
  • epidemiology, accident reporting and analysis
  • accident prevention
  • human reliability assessment
  • safety climate and culture
  • safety systems management

Method and Frequency of Class:

Activity Number of Weeks Number of sessions Duration of a session
Lecture 12 weeks 2 week 2 hours

Method of Assessment:

Assessment Type Weight Requirements
Coursework 1 30.00  
Exam 1 70.00  
Human-Computer Systems

This module takes a human factors design perspective on HCI considering the overall human-computer system. A highly practical stance is taken and the module will follow a typical user-centred design process, commencing with lectures and accompanying method-focussed sessions on understanding user requirements, progressing to design work and finally objective and subjective interface testing approaches. These sessions will align closely with the coursework application areas.

Topics include:

  • introduction to HCI
  • usability and user experience
  • understanding user requirements
  • context of use analysis
  • design guidelines and principles
  • designing for user acceptance
  • lo and hi-fidelity prototyping
  • user and non-user-based approaches to interface testing 
Advanced Methods in Human Factors and Human-Computer Interaction

Topics include:

  • working as a human factors engineer/HCI professional
  • predictive evaluation techniques (eg GOMs, Fitts Law)
  • psychophysical methods
  • verbal protocol analysis
  • qualitative approaches and methodologies
  • eye-tracking methodologies
  • ethical considerations in human factors research
  • capturing and analysing human physiological data
Individual Postgraduate Project (summer) 60 credits

This project involves students undertaking an original, independent, research study into an engineering or industrial topic appropriate to their specific MSc programme. The project should be carried out in a professional manner and may be undertaken on any topic which is relevant to the MSc programme, as agreed by the relevant Course Director and module convenor.

The project has several aims, beyond reinforcing information and methodology presented in the taught modules; the student is expected to develop skills in research, investigation, planning, evaluation and oral and written communication.

Final reporting will take the form of a written account including a literature review and an account of the student's contribution. A presentation will be made to academic staff towards the end of the project.

Method and Frequency of Class:

There will be a one hour introductory session/session via Moodle . All other activities are arranged on an individual basis between the student and the project supervisor.

Method of Assessment:

Assessment Type Weight Requirements
Coursework 1 10.00 Interim Report (Marked by project supervisor)
Coursework 2 15.00 Supervisor assessment of student input and professionalism (marked by project supervisor)
Coursework 3 10.00 15 minute oral presentation (peer marked and with 1 staff)
Coursework 4 65.00 Dissertation (10,000 word limit)

The project area is flexible and will be supervised by an academic member of staff

The above is a sample of the typical modules we offer but is not intended to be construed and/or relied upon as a definitive list of the modules that will be available in any given year. Modules (including methods of assessment) may change or be updated, or modules may be cancelled, over the duration of the course due to a number of reasons such as curriculum developments or staffing changes. Please refer to the module catalogue for information on available modules. This content was last updated on Tuesday 17 November 2020.

Learning and assessment

How you will learn

  • Seminars
  • Lectures
  • Tutorials
  • Practical classes

How you will be assessed

  • Coursework
  • In-class test
  • Examinations

Contact time and study hours

As a guide, one credit is equal to approximately 10 hours of work; the MSc course is 180 credits. 

Entry requirements

All candidates are considered on an individual basis and we accept a broad range of qualifications. The entrance requirements below apply to 2021 entry.

Undergraduate degreeA high 2:2. Will accept qualifications in Manufacturing Engineering, Industrial Engineering, Mechanical Engineering, Product/Industrial Design, Management/Business, Psychology, Human Sciences, Health Sciences, Physiotherapy, Occupational therapy, Computer Science, Safety Science. Also, of course, Human Factors or Ergonomics. The Course Director will consider other interested applicants, including those with only professional qualifications and those with other subjects.


Please feel free to contact the course director, Dr Glyn Lawson to discuss your interest in the course.

Our step-by-step guide covers everything you need to know about applying.

How to apply


Qualification MSc
Home / UK £10,500
International £25,000

If you are a student from the EU, EEA or Switzerland starting your course in the 2021/22 academic year, you will pay international tuition fees.

This does not apply to Irish students, who will be charged tuition fees at the same rate as UK students. UK nationals living in the EU, EEA and Switzerland will also continue to be eligible for ‘home’ fee status at UK universities until 31 December 2027.

For further guidance, check our Brexit information for future students.

Additional costs

As a student on this course, there are no additional costs for your budget, apart from your tuition fees and living expenses. Lab and safety equipment is provided for free by the Department.

You should be able to access all of the books you’ll need through our libraries and it is not usual for students to buy their own copies. Any field trips are also funded by the Department. Please note that these figures are approximate and subject to change.


There are many ways to fund your postgraduate course, from scholarships to government loans.

We also offer a range of international masters scholarships for high-achieving international scholars who can put their Nottingham degree to great use in their careers.

Check our guide to find out more about funding your postgraduate degree.

Postgraduate funding


We offer individual careers support for all postgraduate students.

Expert staff can help you research career options and job vacancies, build your CV or résumé, develop your interview skills and meet employers.

More than 1,500 employers advertise graduate jobs and internships through our online vacancy service. We host regular careers fairs, including specialist fairs for different sectors.

Institute for Ergonomics and Human Factors

This course is accredited as the educational qualification for Membership of the Institute for Ergonomics and Human Factors.

Two masters graduates proudly holding their certificates
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Human Factors and Ergonomics MSc student James Khan

Human Factors and Ergonomics Masters student James Khan talks about his experiences at Nottingham, in the comfort of the vehicle simulation lab.

Related courses

The University has been awarded Gold for outstanding teaching and learning (2017/18). Our teaching is of the highest quality found in the UK.

The Teaching Excellence Framework (TEF) is a national grading system, introduced by the government in England. It assesses the quality of teaching at universities and how well they ensure excellent outcomes for their students in terms of graduate-level employment or further study.

This content was last updated on Tuesday 17 November 2020. Every effort has been made to ensure that this information is accurate, but changes are likely to occur given the interval between the date of publishing and course start date. It is therefore very important to check this website for any updates before you apply.